They’re such a great crop for the home gardener; they’re (relatively) easy to grow; they’re a nutritional powerhouse; and they taste good, to boot! But at the same time, I feel like they’re terribly under-appreciated.
Take that memorable scene from Shrek, for instance:
Shrek: Ogres are like onions.
Donkey: They stink?
Donkey: Or they make you cry?
Donkey: Or you leave ’em out in the sun; they get all brown — start sprouting little white hairs?
Personally, I love onions. I love ’em fresh (on burgers and brats), pickled (with eggs), sautéed (all by their lonesome), and fried (onion rings, anyone?). Heck, I even like ’em dried — and here’s why:
I’ve found that nice, well-formed onions will stay good for nearly 6 months in our root cellar. Just let ’em cure in the warm garage for 2 or 3 weeks, then haul ’em down to the cellar, and you’re good to go. No additional prep-work needed. It’s one of the easiest-storage vegetables around.
So why would you go to all the trouble of cutting and drying a bunch of onions instead of just leaving them be?
Well, speaking from a wealth of personal experience, sometimes gardening doesn’t turn out the way you plan. You’ll find that some years, good old Ma Nature plays tricks on you (like she did with our 2016 harvest), and you end up with oodles and gobs of spindly, poorly-formed (but still deliciously edible) onionettes.
They aren’t gonna store well in the root cellar, and I really don’t want to see them go to waste — so why not dry ’em up and save ’em for a rainy day?
Even in the best of years, you’ll sometimes find that some of your onions have started to go soft and/or sprout before you can get around to eating them. So what do you do? Just peel off the mushy layers, and dry the rest! It’s a great way to minimize waste!
So let’s go out on a limb here and say that you do decide to dry up a bunch of onions. You’ll end up with a pretty little mason jar full of yellow-ish white-ish flakes.
But what are you gonna DO with them?
(I’m really glad you asked).
Throw. Them. In. Everything.
End of story.
They go great in soups, stews, sauces, salads, stir fries, salsas, sloppy joes… I’ve thrown them in omlettes and refried beans. They’re amazing on top of grilled chicken, pork chops, steaks, etc. As a matter of fact, dried onions are one of the most important ingredients in my fry batter.
So how do you dry onions?
Well, assuming you have a fancy-schmancy dehydrator, all you gotta do is:
Step 1 — Slice ‘Em Into Rings
You want them to be somewhere in the neighborhood of 1/8″ to 1/4″ thick. It isn’t too critical, so don’t stress out about it too much.
If you’re cutting up a lot of onions, however, I would suggest wearing some kind of eye protection — because… well… they’re ONIONS!
I usually bust out the motocross goggles.
Step 2 — Layer Them On The Dehydrator
Not too much to explain here. It’s all pretty simple — but try not to pile them on top of each other too much.
Step 3 — Turn On The Dehydrator
If your dehydrator allows you to adjust the temperature, I’d suggest setting it to 135°F.
All you gotta do now is wait for the onions to get crispy-dry. For us, it usually takes about 10 to 12 hours. When they’re done, take them out of the dehydrator, crumble them into a mason jar (0r a similar storage container), and you’re good to go!